Provost's Distinguished Lecture Series

hosted by Executive Vice President & Provost Roy Haggerty

About the Series

The Provost's Distinguished Lecture Series features a keynote speaker renowned for significant contributions to their field, in alignment with President Tate's "Scholarship First" agenda. The goal of the series is to inspire intellectual curiosity and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Following the keynote presentation, the event continues with "lightning rounds" where LSU faculty members showcase their interdisciplinary work related to the speaker's theme, sparking discussions and forging connections with colleagues they might not have interacted with otherwise. 


janina jeff

headshot of Dr. Janina Jeff

Dr. Janina Jeff

Keynote Presentation: Advancing Precision Medicine in Diverse Populations Through Bioinformatics and Podcasting

Date: Thursday, September 26, 2024
Time: 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. (reception to follow)
Location: Harrison Boardroom, LSU Foundation


About the Keynote

Less than 2% of genetic association studies are conducted in African descent populations limiting the field’s progress towards Precision Medicine. Several have suggested recruitment being the solution but the solution goes well beyond sample collection. Dr. Jeff will discuss how she addresses these limitations through her work as a population geneticists and her international award winning podcast, In Those Genes.

About Janina Jeff

Population geneticist, bioinformatician, STEAM-activist, educator, motivational speaker, and podcaster, Dr. Janina M. Jeff is the first African American to graduate with a PhD in Human Genetics from Vanderbilt University and graduate of Spelman College (class of 2007). She is currently a Staff Bioinformatics Scientist at Illumina, where she develops pipelines for content annotation, selection, and design of population genome-wide content as well as selection of clinically annotated variants for Illumina’s genotyping array portfolio that enables healthy population screening. In 2018, Janina was selected as one of three winners (out of 18,000) from Spotify’s Sound-Up Bootcamp for her podcast, “In Those Genes”, is an international award-winning podcast that uses genetics to decode the lost histories of African descended Americans through the lens of Black culture. In Those Genes has been recognized by the American Society of Human Genetics, NY Festivals, IndieWire, The New York Times, Third Coast Audio Festival, and The Ambies. In 2020, Janina was recently named as one of the top 100 Influential African Americans by The Root magazine as well as Top 40 Under 40 Alumna with Spelman College, The National Quality Minority Forum and The Network Journal. The podcast has also received grant funding from Spotify, Illumina, 500 Women Scientist, and The Greater Good Science Foundation. Recently is also the 2023 top award winner for the National Academies of Science Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Science Communications. Her TEDx talk, “Afrofuturism Through the Power of the Genome” similar to her work challenges the misuse of genetics information and empowers the Black community to learn the value that lies within their genomes work.

provost's distinguished lecture series archive

Dr. Talitha Washington

Director of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative

Topic: The Power of Data and the Future We’re Building
Date: Monday, April 29, 2024
Time: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Theater in the Digital Media Center, 340 E Parker Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Dr. Talitha Washington is the Director of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative; a tenured professor of mathematics at Clark Atlanta University; and an affiliate faculty at Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College. She is the lead principal investigator of the National Data Science Alliance, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Washington is the President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and was, most recently, a Program Director at the NSF. Her research interests include applied mathematics, dynamical systems, nonstandard finite difference schemes, data science, artificial intelligence, and education.

Dr. Washington completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics at Spelman College and studied abroad at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Mexico. She earned her master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Connecticut. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Connecticut. She is a Fellow of the AWM, the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr. Isaac Porche

Mission Area Executive, National Security Analysis, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Topic: International Conflict in the Information Age: Cybersecurity, Psychology, and International Law
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2023
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: 1245 Patrick F. Taylor Hall

Dr. Isaac Porche is the National Security Analysis mission area executive at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

Porche began his career as an engineer with General Motors Electric Vehicles and then as a transportation research engineer at the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan. In 1998, he began a two-decade stint at the RAND Corporation as a senior engineer and then as the first director of the Acquisition and Development program in the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, a federally funded research and development center operated by RAND. Porche was also the associate director of the Forces and Logistics program in RAND’s Army Research Division.

In addition, Porche served as a research scientist and chief engineer at General Dynamics Missions Systems and lecturer for the Carnegie Mellon University Institute of Politics and Strategy. Prior to his appointment at Johns Hopkins, Porche served as deputy director and head of the Communications, Information and Navigation Office at the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University. At Penn State, Porche was responsible for setting a vision and providing oversight of more than 300 research scientists, engineers and technicians working on a $100 million sponsor-funded research-and-development portfolio. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed reports, conference papers, op-eds and high-level presentations and publications, including congressional testimony in 2016 and his 2019 textbook, “Cyberwarfare: An Introduction to Information-Age Conflict.”

Porche holds a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge.

Dr. Michael Burton
Eugene McDermott Associate Professor of Neuroscience
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

Topic: Neuroimmune Interactions in Acute and Transitional Pain States
Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: Library, School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Burton is the Principal Investigator of the Neuroimmunology and Behavior (NIB) Lab. He is an Associate Professor in Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas, and opened his lab in the fall of 2017. Dr. Burton received his B.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He moved to Dallas, TX to begin his postdoctoral fellowship at both UT Southwestern Medical Center and UT Dallas. He has been recognized as an early career award winner by the Endocrine Society, the American Pain Society, the American Society for Cell Biology, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the Rita Allen Foundation.  His lab strives to traverse the gap between basic research and clinical application to patients. His goal is to continue developing his leading research program studying neuroimmune interactions and mentor highly motivated undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees.

Dr. Kyla McMullen
Associate Professor in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences & Engineering, University of Florida

Topic: 3D Audio: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Sound Perception and Development
Date: Monday, April 17
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Room 1236, Patrick F. Taylor Hall

Dr. McMullen's research interests are focused on the perception, development, and applications of 3D audio technologies. Her work involves digitally filtering sounds to create a realistic virtual environment that enhances data sonification, assists people with visual impairments, and reduces cognitive load in multimodal systems. In recognition of her contributions, she received the prestigious National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. She is also the Principal Investigator of an NSF S-STEM award designed to alleviate the financial burden of graduate school for Ph.D. students.